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The King Center: the Legend and his Lessons

group of black men protesting in suits

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Center for Nonviolent Social Change, known as the “King Center” to most of us, was opened in 1968 by Coretta Scott King following the tragic assassination of Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The King Center was created not only as a memorial to Dr. King but as an educational, community and social change institution. Nearly half a million people make the pilgrimage to the center each year to pay their respects to Dr. King! As well as to learn and be inspired by what has become an active embodiment of the King’s philosophy, work and practice. We at Roundabout Atlanta make up a good part of those visitors during our Black History & Civil Rights tour.

Dr. King left a powerful legacy, not only for the people of Atlanta and the US, but for the whole world. He is a man that needs no introduction: famed for his “I Have a Dream” speech from the March for Jobs and Freedom in Washington in 1963; his “Letter from Birmingham Jail” manifesto in 1963; and being the youngest person to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. But the true testament to his power is that his philosophy and teachings still remain, not only relevant, but crucial in advocating nonviolence for social justice today, over 50 years after his passing.

Coretta Scott King, wife of Dr. King, was founding president, chair and CEO of the King Center. Mrs King worked tirelessly to establish the center, providing programs that train tens of thousands of people in Dr. King’s philosophy and methods. Mrs King herself was a leading participant in the American Civil Rights Movement, known as the first lady of civil rights and regarded today as one of the most influential women leaders in the world. Her passion, determination and love are legendary, and she was critical in the campaign to establish Dr. King’s birthday as a US federal holiday, celebrated every year on the third Monday of January. 2020 will be the 34th time that the holiday will be celebrated and is a key event on the King Center’s calendar. Being the only non-president to have a federal holiday dedicated to himself is demonstrative of the importance of his philosophy.

Dr. King believed that the “Triple Evils of Poverty, Racism and Militarism” must be confronted with the “Six Principles of Nonviolence”. These principles teach that nonviolence:

  1. Is a way of life for courageous people,
  2. Seeks to win friendship and understanding,
  3. Seeks to defeat injustice not people,
  4. Holds that suffering can educate and transform,
  5. Chooses love instead of hate; and,
  6. Believes that the universe is on the side of justice.

In order to achieve these through nonviolent social change, Dr. King outlined six steps: information gathering, education, personal commitment, discussion and negotiation, direct action, and reconciliation.

The King Center remains as important as ever, offering the opportunity for everyone to learn from his principles and to continue developing his nonviolent philosophy. The Center is still heavily involved in social justice projects, offering a strategy for marginalized groups to follow to achieve social equality. For Atlanta, Dr. King is still a leader in the ongoing campaign to achieve black equality and someone we respect and admire profoundly. Join us on one of our tours to learn more about the King and his importance for the black community. We’ll even be happy to talk about the icon as we transport you around Atlanta! Contact us and find out more today.

– your Roundabout Atlanta team

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